Climbing Mt Fuji
Climbing Fuji-san is perhaps one of the most rewarding and challenging adventures to undertake in Japan. Despite its steep slopes, Mt. Fuji can be climbed up quite easily even by beginners, with its various walking routes allowing for a wide range of abilities. While getting to the peak of Fuji-san may not be possible for everyone, there are many incredible stops along the way that are worth the effort.
A formidable and revered icon like Fuji-san demands respect, so it is important that you plan ahead for any climb. Mt. Fuji is open to hikers from July to early September, and the best time for climbing is late July to late August when the weather conditions are most stable. The busiest time on the mountain is the long holiday week (August 13th and 17th), and in this period Fuji-san can become very crowded – great if you want to share your climb with new friends, but to be avoided if you’re seeking serenity!
If you’re attempting to reach Fuji-san’s peak, most climbers pause for a necessary break at the many mountain huts located at various points partway up the mountain. These mountain huts are very well-equipped with facilities, so there is no need for you to climb with tents, rice cookers etc. Some mountain huts accept reservations in advance. In the peak season, expect to be sharing rooms with other climbers, so if you wish to secure private space, place a reservation in advance. Due to the scarcity of water on the mountain, showers are a rarity, and facilities are basic. No five stars on Fuji-san but the many stars in the sky make up for any lack of luxury!
After a much-needed rest, many choose to set off during early hours of the morning so they can reach the summit in time for the stunning sunrise. If you are a novice climber, it’s important to remember that climbing up Mt. Fuji in the dark can be dangerous, so make thorough preparations and arrangements in advance, and bring all the necessary provisions, equipment and clothing.
This includes minimum provisions of water, light snacks, a torch, as well as some extra clothes. The temperature at the base of Mt Fuji will be very different to the peak – even in the summer months, the average temperature at the summit is between 5 C and 8 C. Depending on the wind conditions, you will feel the temperature dropping to near freezing point – so durable weather-appropriate clothing and footwear is essential.
All that planning and preparation is worth it when you reach the summit of Fuji-san. When you reach the Kengamine peak, you’ll be 3,776 metres above sea level, the highest in Japan. Along with the incredible views, there is the rim of a crater 600 metres in diameter and 200 metres deep. This course is called ‘Ohachi-meguri’ because the crater at the top of Fuji-san is shaped like a ‘hachi,’ or a bowl.
That’s just one of eight different peaks you can walk once you reach the summit. As you walk between them, the trail makes the shape of Sakyamuni Buddha seated in the form of a lotus flower, which makes this tour all the more significant and symbolic. The total distance is approximately 4 kilometres, and it takes an average of 1 hour and 30 minutes to complete the tour of Ohachi-meguri.
Climbing Fuji-san is an experience like no other, connecting you with Japan’s most revered natural icon. Whether you take in a brief hike or venture to its majestic summit, your time on the mountain will stay with you forever.